La Luna, by Pop-Classical crossover diva Sarah Brightman, is a masterwork of mood and tone for the imaginative traveller to the lunar sphere. It begins with a simple premise, an ode to the moon, with the thematic statement:
Nothing is as evocative of romance and of alienation as the moon. Nothing is at once so barren, yet so vivid.
The album itself comprises a beautiful soundscape across a dozen languages and musical genres... Recalling those feelings of romance and alienation, the cold blue of space against the soft silver of the celestial orb, and somehow, whether by the artist's intention or the hearer's interpretation, the fanicful world of Georges Méliès and paper moon photography.
Even the artwork and advertizing pieces for the album are a visually sumptuous revistiation of these antiquated photographs. The stunningly beautiful Sarah is gauze wrapped and jewel-haired amongst the clouds and the rocky dunes of the moon. In the A Whiter Shade of Pale video, the aetheric winds billow her white dress against a backdrop of mountain, crag, earth, space and moon landing debris.
La Luna begins with La Lune: a dense and dreamy placer utilizing NASA samples and her own heavenly voice to lull the listener into her Music of the Spheres. The chill of space is brought out in the inspirational Winter in July, followed by her haunting renditions of Simon and Garfunkel's Scarborough Fair and later, Procol Harum's A Whiter Shade of Pale. Figlio Perduto, Hijo De La Luna, La Cliffa, and Solo Con Te all reach into the realm of World Music while demonstrating Sarah's background as an Opera singer (technically Pop singer gone Musical singer gone Classical-Opera singer gone back to Pop). Hijo De la Luna in particular fills out the album's concept with a tale told of a gypsy woman who begs the moon for a husband, who in turns demands a son as payment... Resulting in violence, bloodshed and the origin of the moon's phases. The melancholy agony of unrequieted love is felt through He Doesn't See Me. Sarah tests out her scales in the intermissionary Serenade, which blends into the operatic How Fair This Place. Here With Me and This Love begin to close up the album with the required romantic Adult Contemporary tracks. These are followed by a bluesy and haunting rendition of Gloomy Sunday, and finally, the title track and an additional secret song, Moon River.
The album brought Brightman unprecedented success as a crossover artist and set the stage for her next concept album, the Arabesque Harem, and mainstream fame in the early years of the new millenium. A concert tour came along with La Luna, featuring magnificent design reminiscent of the album's photography. Unfortunately, as evidenced by the DVD taping, it is hampered by her surprisingly awkward performance skills. Nevertheless, the La Luna itself remains as perhaps the diffinitive soundtrack for romantic, melancholic gazing at the moon.